Annual report for FY 2014
If you hunt in Utah, you've benefited from a program you might not know much about. Utah's Conservation Permit Program provides substantial, dedicated funding for wildlife projects. It's a program that benefits wildlife, habitat and hunters.
Using revenue from conservation permits, the DWR captured and moved more than 200 mule deer to new areas in 2014.
Conservation permits are hunting permits auctioned annually at banquets, fundraisers and other events sponsored by various conservation groups. Since the program began in 1981, these permits have raised more than $35 million. The majority of that revenue—more than 90 percent—has gone toward projects that directly benefit the species for which the permit was issued. These projects include:
The Conservation Permit Program funds important wildlife and habitat projects with minimal impact to Utah hunters. In April 2014, the conservation and sportsmen groups that participate in the program allocated approximately $1.3 million in new money toward DWR-approved projects for the coming year.
Although the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) distributes conservation permits, the Utah Wildlife Board has authority over the number and type of permits issued. Board members have adopted a detailed administrative rule that determines how many conservation permits are available and how they are distributed.
The conservation groups that partner with the DWR in this program can then auction the permits to members of the public who attend their annual banquets and fundraising events. Conservation permits are available for the following species: bear, bighorn sheep (desert and Rocky Mountain), bison, cougar, deer, elk, moose, pronghorn, mountain goats and turkey
After the permits are auctioned, the funds are allocated as follows:
For 2014, the Utah Wildlife Board approved 317 conservation permits, 211 of which were for limited-entry or once-in-a-lifetime big game hunting. To put this in perspective, the DWR issues approximately 6,500 limited-entry hunting permits each year. Here's a detailed look at conservation permit numbers and revenue from 2001–2014.
Conservation permits helped fund mountain goat transplants in 2013 and 2014.
Because of the funding it generates, the Conservation Permit Program benefits all Utah hunters:
Revenue from the Conservation Permit Program provides funding for projects that could not otherwise be funded under the DWR’s normal operating budget. Without the program, Utah’s general deer and elk permit fees would likely increase by an additional $15 to $20, or a larger percentage of those permits would have to go to nonresidents, who pay higher permit fees.
The online database contains in-depth information about the habitat-restoration projects funded by the Conservation Permit Program.
The Conservation Permit Program relies on partnering with conservation and sportsmen groups who raise funds by auctioning conservation permits at banquets held throughout Utah. In FY 2014, eight groups participated in the program including: Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Utah Bowmen's Association and Utah Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.
After they auction conservation permits each year, members of the participating conservation groups meet with the DWR to decide how to spend the 60 percent of permit revenue that funds many wildlife projects. The groups’ representatives discuss proposals and then indicate which projects they want to fund.
In fiscal year 2014, the conservation and sportsmen groups spent more than $1.6 million on DWR-approved habitat and research projects.
The screen shot above provides a quick look at one of the projects supported with conservation permit funds. If you visit this project page, you can click the items in the left column to learn more about necessary equipment, budget components, affected species, proposed features and other relevant project details.
The DWR tracks detailed information about all habitat-restoration projects using the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative’s online database. The DWR and its partners launched the initiative in 2005. Since then, the initiative has generated approximately $125 million to restore more than 1.1 million acres of habitat. The Conservation Permit Program has provided more than $8.2 million of the $125 million. When possible, the DWR uses the conservation permit revenue to obtain matching funds and donations from other agencies and the federal government.
DWR personnel use a bullhog to improve wildlife habitat on the Henry Mountains.
The Utah Legislature performed an audit of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and released its final report in November 2011. The auditors specifically reviewed the Conservation Permit Program (pages 27–30) and reached the following conclusion:
The sale of conservation permits promotes habitat improvement on public lands with no expense to the taxpayer, while negligibly reducing the public’s opportunity to draw a permit for a limited-entry hunting area. We would encourage the division to continue to support this program.
The DWR annually audits the Conservation Permit Program and presents the results to the Utah Wildlife Board.